I've got a full Bonnaroo review of 30 bands coming in the next couple of days, but tonight I don't have the energy. But I have to address the show everyone's talking about - Kanye West's late night set on Saturday.
I had resigned myself to missing most of this show, since I wanted to catch Ghostland Observatory instead. After Ghostland finished at 4 am, I sprinted over to the main stage, hoping to catch the last 10 minutes of Kanye, but when I saw hundreds of people streaming out, I thought I was too late. Then I spied the message on the big screen: "KANYE WEST UP NEXT!" It turns out Kanye hadn't even started. My guess is he wanted to wait until the other bands had finished, so he could be the only one playing. That would fit his personality.
At any rate, there was a lot of booing and yelling while people waited, but I was selfishly thrilled because it meant I'd get to see the entire show. Not only that, but because so many people had left, it was easy to get nearly all the way down front. When West finally came out at 4:30, maybe 10,000 of the 50,000 or so attendees remained. All was forgiven when he opened with (appropriately) "Good Morning," one of the many brilliant songs on Graduation.
Initially, this had the makings of being a fun show. The highlights were many: The crowd eagerly obliging when Kanye ordered them to throw up diamonds; there was the computerized/distorted vocal microphone effect on "The Good Life," which also featured my favorite Kanye lyric, "Now my grandmama ain't the only girl callin' me Baby"; the brooding, powerful "Can't Tell Me Nothing"; and the crowd-pleasing "Gold Digger," which turned into a sing along as fans shouted the money lines like "he'll leave your ass for a white girl!" Kanye commanded the stage despite being the only person on it - unlike most rappers, he doesn't need to bring out dancers or guest rappers to hold our attention.
About the lateness... did you expect anything else from Mr. Massive Ego? I couldn't help but smile when Kanye rapped in "Stronger," "You should be honored by my lateness!" The real problem with this show wasn't that it started late, but that it ended early. Less than 60 minutes after hitting the stage, he walked off without a goodbye or an encore.
His much-ballyhooed Glow in the Dark show turned out to be nothing more than a few video screens and a roleplay scenario in which he was supposedly stranded on a strange planet with a spaceship named Jane. But because Kanye left early, he never finished the story. Did he make it off the planet? I guess we'll never know...
During his final song, Kanye kept freestyling about "touching the sky." I was certain that would lead into the actual song "Touch the Sky," with a likely guest appearance from Lupe Fiasco, since Lupe was at the festival and had finished his set just a few hours earlier. Instead, Kanye walked off at 5:30 a.m. and the house music came up immediately, leaving woozy, incredulous campers to wander back to their tents in disgust. "Fuck Kanye!" became the official Bonnaroo slogan on Sunday, echoed from one end of the camp grounds to the other.
I suppose this might go down alongside Madonna's infamous 30-minute Coachella performance. It was frustrating, but I'm very grateful for having seen the show. When do you ever get to see a concert that starts in the dark and ends in daylight? Years from now I'll still be telling people about the time I got to see Kanye West play as the sun came up.